This Cro-Magnon Doesn’t Fight for a Word

Lost in the hubbub surrounding the unsurprising “personal evolution” by President Obama toward support of a radical redefinition of marriage was how the president characterized the position of the majority of Americans who uphold the natural and traditional definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman. His May 9 ABC news interview was significant not only because he revealed what he believes about redefining marriage, but he also gave strong indication of what he thinks about those of us who do not share his opinion.

The first characterization of his opponents, (if thirty-one states’ democratic defense of traditional marriage are any indication) the majority of Americans, is found in the now oft-repeated word describing his position on homosexual unions – “evolution.” “Evolution” is a carefully chosen word that signifies much more than just changing one’s mind or the politically damaging “flip-flop.” It is a word that the administration insists on using over and over again when discussing this matter; its use indicates the regard the president has for his opposition. “Evolution,” as most commonly used today, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.”

This word-choice is laden with implications for the Christian/traditional/majority view on marriage. In the mind of the president, our view, it seems, is backward, lower, simpler and, well, positively “cro-magnon.” His view is not only right but is – without having to actually argue the point – better, more refined, cultured, sophisticated, and progressive. The clear implication is that if you do not hold his view you are not just an opponent, you are an unevolved opponent standing in the way of human progress. As Shepherd Smith recently said on Fox news – you don’t want to find yourself “sitting very firmly, without much question, on the wrong side of history.”

If you want to get with the times, you evolve. If you don’t evolve you become marginalized, irrelevant, and ultimately, you die out. This appears to be the underlying assumption of Vice President Biden who has taken up the claim of the gay lobby that we are merely postponing the inevitable. “I think,” the Vice President somberly proclaimed, “the country is evolving and I think there is inevitability for a national consensus on gay marriage.”

The message from the White House is clear: Join the emerging consensus we are creating and forcing upon the American people or you will regret it. Progress and evolution or marginalization and, need we say it? That is our choice. Or if you prefer the words of the Duke of Norfolk in Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, “But damn it Thomas, look at these names. Why can’t you do as I did and join us, for fellowship?”

A no less demeaning characterization of the President’s opponents is the following statement that explains why President Obama has been loath to publicly state his position on redefining marriage – at least since he has had his eyes on the presidency: “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people the word ‘marriage’ was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth.”

Mr. President, while I appreciate your sensitivity, I think this “culture war” is about much more than a word. It is about a fundamental institution at the heart of every human society. Though some might suggest that it all depends upon “what the meaning of is, is” the fact is that words are intimately tied to, signify and, in a sense, make present the reality to which they are attached. Those who support marriage are fighting for more than just a word. Marriage is not just a label or a stamp that can be placed willy-nilly on different sorts of relationships as human beings “evolve.” Contrary to Secretary Clinton’s 2009 plea to the students of Georgetown University, we do not have a right to love whomever we choose and then to call that relationship a marriage. Marriage is only the life-long union between one man and one woman.

The word “marriage”, like all words, means something and it is for that something that we fight. We defend a natural institution that is essential for the flourishing of humanity and we argue for it from varied perspectives. Many have the conviction that God created marriage and from the beginning ordered it toward his command to be fruitful and multiply and then further dignified marriage by elevating it to a sacrament that signifies the love Jesus has for His Church. Some rally around an institution we know to be the cornerstone of society, indeed the first natural society, and the fundamental building block of a thriving community and nation. Others are concerned because we know that children have a natural right to be raised by both parents in a stable and loving home.

Leaders are willing to go down swinging because marriage is already on the ropes today as cultural forces gradually tear down individual marriages and they fear that the radical redefinition of marriage will further distort the true meaning of this beautiful institution. Still others simply want to maintain a traditional understanding of marriage enshrined in law in every land. Others make slippery slope arguments and fear what is next. And, yes, many fear that legal recognition and elevation of homosexual unions will codify into law an acceptance of sexual acts we believe to be intrinsically disordered, immoral, and a grave depravity. In short, we fight for an institution that we believe to be beautiful, traditional, vital, a sacrament, and necessary for our flourishing.

This is the seriousness of our perspective, and characterizing our view as little more than a sentimental clinging to a word amounts to nothing more than erecting a straw man. We argue for the one and only true definition of marriage and our arguments cannot be characterized as unevolved thinking. We approach marriage from different perspectives, each concerned citizen emphasizing different goods to be protected and upheld. Our principled positions and careful argumentation are not at the service of a moniker or label we slap on relationships we wish to affirm. We would not fight for a mere word; we fight for marriage.

We will oppose words, however, because we know that they have implications and a deep connection to reality. We realize that your words are intended to prepare the nation for the forthcoming action to radically redefine the first and most fundamental institution of society. As we hear your words we share the conviction of Cardinal Timothy Dolan who has stated, “We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of society. The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”

Words have meaning, Mr. President. Though you may be surrounded by many who hold that words only mean what we happen to want them to mean at a given moment, you cannot change the nature of this fundamental human institution. And many of us cro-magnons are willing to fight for this basic truth.

Arland K. Nichols


Arland K. Nichols is the founding President of the John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    believe the defence of traditional marriage was best put by Archbishop of Paris, André Vingt-Trois, in his evidence to the 2006 Pécresse Commission, “Even though it has not taken the modern form familiar in our civil legislation, there has always been a means of handing things down from generation to generation, which is the very basis of continuity and stability in a society.  This transmission between generations is primarily effected by the family. It is the legal framework of family life that structures the transmission of life and shapes the future of society.”

    Nothing brings out more clearly the futility of SSM than this profound and fearless statement of Catholic teaching.

  • Pingback: This Cro-Magnon Doesn’t Fight for a Word | Catholic Canada()

  • msmischief

    Ah, the irony of life.

    “Evolution” in the sense they use is indeed evolution insofar as it influences reproduction.  It is in fact working to eliminate the genes of those who, in past generations, would have been pressured to reproduce their kind even against their inclination.  Clear away the culture that protected against it, and evolution will work for their elimination.

  • kjd

    If marriage is but a word, why are the gays fighting so hard to make it theirs?  “Civil unions” can give them all the rights they say they want: to be recognized as “family” when their partner is in the hospital, to to inherit tax-free, all these are legal matters and can be resolved without calling their partnership a marriage.  Obviously, gays think “marriage” is far more than a word.  (Maybe god will accept they have not sinned because they were “married”? 

    • kjd

      Sorry, that is God!  My computer hides what I am writing and I cannot always tell something is wrong until after it is published.  (I also left off the closing parenthesis.)

    • Destinyoneal81

      if they luv someone let them

  • Petepat1

    I am worried primarily about the next generation growing up in a gender ambigous America.

    Having been one of the lawyers on the losing side of grandparent visitation in Washington State, I have learned to accept the policy that when parents fragment the family by divorce, the child’s life should not be further fragmented by additional persons having visitation rights.

    But hold on, read RCW 26.26.116(2), adopted in 2011, concerning children born in the context of domestic partnership:

    (2) A person is presumed to be the parent of a child if, for the first two years of the child’s life, the person resided in the same household with the child and openly held out the child as his or her own.

    The statute doesnt say how many domestic partnerships, or whatever constellation of people who hold themselves out as a parent gain the status of parent. If you do not believe that one day a case of two partnerships raising a single child will not explode because of it’s unnatural foundation and one or more of the parties given rights will not be in court splintering the childs life in direct rejection of the policy that ended grandparents rights, you havent practiced law long enough.

    Who does he look to for support? This has been a real shock to the non-custodian, that when they split up calling themselves a de facto parent, ( another theory entirely for non-bio parent figures which has historically been won only by the gay community, almost never a heterosexual )  they win visits, but also the right to support the child. Congratulations, you win. Pay up.

    Not explained anywhere is whether that child has inheritance rights from any of these people. I doubt the Social Security Administration is necessarily going to be paying this child survivor benefits.

    Only our imagination limits what will happen next to this new class of children we have birthed here in the State of Washington. It is a Brave New World, designed by adults for adults, hastening the erosion of those things that make up a cohesive society.

    • Chris

      Right. Because growing up being bumped around the foster care system from 0 to 18 is infinitely better than having two dads. I don’t understand how a very convoluted, very specific set of circumstances is grounds for setting a policy. I can’t imagine any situation where having a dedicated parent figure(s), even under “unnatural” circumstances, is worse than having no parent figure at all.

      I have a friend who was adopted and raised by two women in a lifelong partnership. If you want to try to tell her she’d have been better off growing up in an Indian orphanage, be my guest.

      • Mark Patterson II

        When a Supreme Court, either in our state or the US Supreme Court makes a ruling it is necessarily fact specific, because those are the facts that got it to the court. But these matters are only accepted for review there when the outcome of the case will make policy.

        My concern is more about a policy decision made in our states highest court and then it’s legislature that seem to be on opposite ends: Is it we want only two parents, which is the rule for the heterosexual population, or potentially multiple sets?

        While I care about the outcome, as a lawyer I just want to know what the rule is first. It cant be determined on sexual orientation, at least I hope not. That is what it looks like, and hence, my point is we have two policies. The child of gay parents under our statute may have multiple sets, all clamoring for rights, and a hopelessly fragmented childhood- which is your point Chris about too many foster parents.  The distinction is a foster parent knows they have no rights at all really.

  • Pingback: This Cro-Magnon Doesn’t Fight for a Word « HLI America()

  • Bill Ford

    If what conduces to survival is a Darwinian advantage,homosexuality is most assuredly “anti-Darwinian”,and is against one’s gene-line’s survival.They get the facetiously named “Darwin Award”.So homosexual activity is anti-evolutionary in the proper sense.

  • Pingback: This Cro-Magnon Doesn’t Fight for a Word()

  • Pingback: Stop Supporting Starbucks | Archivum Secretum()

  • Pingback: Stop Supporting Starbucks - Truth and Charity Forum()

  • Pingback: This Cro-Magnon Doesn’t Fight for a Word - Human Life International()

  • Uuncle Max

    You are making much too big an issue of this. It’s really nothing more than political opportunism – when he was running for a small state office in a liberal district Obama was for ssm. Running for wider office he switched his position and stayed there thru running for state senate and then U.S. Senate and then for president. Now he figures the wind has switched enough so he can come 180 degrees.

    How to do it? Have the local press send a black woman who has never been in the WH before to be the first to hear the good news and tell a waiting world.

    Objective reporting? Don’t make me laugh. His hand being forced by Joe Biden? Again, don’t make me laugh. Political opportunism? You’re getting closer.